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11,000-Acre Brian Head Fire Spreads Into Garfield County

Chris Holmes

Now at over 11,000 acres burned, the Brian Head Fire continues to expand in size and property damage as it crosses from Iron County into Garfield County.  

A Wednesday night evacuation order issued by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office turned out to be well-founded. 

Residents of the Clear Creek, Horse Valley and Beaver Dam areas near Panguitch Lake were asked to leave.  This Horse Valley property owner returned early Thursday morning to find…

“No, it’s all gone.  One horse trailer that’s up there didn’t get burned, but that’s it," he said.

That was one among three cabins, a pickup truck and two horse trailers destroyed in Horse Valley. The cabin owner did indicate that fire crews were able to save three other cabins nearby.

The explosive expansion of the Brian Head fire is being driven by hot temperatures, dry conditions and, more than anything else the wind, says BLM Public Information Officer Jesse Bender.

“Now as I said, the fire made an eight-mile run yesterday.  And it was spotting out a half mile or more ahead of itself, and starting new fire ahead of the main fire,” she said.

Such erratic fire behavior, and the possibility of sudden changes in wind direction are why it is yet uncertain just when Brian Head residents evacuated on Saturday, might return says the Manager of the resort town located on the doorstep of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bret Houser.

“Ah it’s tough for the business owners,” Houser said. “You know, we have so many business owners who are owner-operators, and you know, their livelihood depends on having their doors open.”

With so many of the area’s resources on the mountain fighting the Brian Head Fire, it’s a bad time for people to be careless in the more densely populated areas of town, says Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips, after dousing an eight-acre grass fire near homes north of Cedar City’s airport Wednesday night.

“Yeah, just be super careful right now,” Phillips said. “If in doubt, don’t do it.  Don’t start that fire.  Don’t shoot your fireworks.”

The Brian Head Fire was started Saturday by an Iron County mountain property owner using a propane torch to burn weeds.